Historical Timeline

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South Orange Historical Timeline

July 11th, 1666 Purchase of land, which includes South Orange, was negotiated with the Hackensack branch of the Lenni Lenape tribe.
1680 The Old Stone House is built. Oldest structure in the village.
1774Squire Family homestead built.
1775-1783At the time of the Revolutionary War South Orange included a few farmhouses, a stone school house, a blacksmith’s shop, gristmill, general store and a tavern.
Circa 1760The Jeptha Baldwin homestead built. Still standing today.
1782Town name of “Orange Dale” informally adopted.
1798First record of the village name of South Orange, but not yet separate from Newark as a Township.
1806South Orange separates from Newark.
Circa 1814-1815Beginning of a formal school system with The Columbian School. Original wooden building was replaced in 1880.
1830Mountain House Spa built. A fashionable “water cure” hotel that could accomidate up to 150 guests. Mountain House Spa burned to the ground in 1890.
1831-1832The first village church was organized: First Presbyterian Church of South Orange.
1836The Morris and Essex Railroad begin operating a horse-drawn car on a single track between S.O. Village and Orange.
1837Morris & Essex train line extended west to Madison, east to Newark.
1841First post office opened in John D. Freeman’s general store.
1843The congregation of the First Presbyterian Church occupied a wooden church structure on the site where their current brick church now stands.
1860 (April 2)60 acres purchased for the building of Seton Hall University.
1860 (September)First classes at Seton Hall University, South Orange campus.
1860Street lamps change over from burning sperm whale oil to a gas service.
1862Built from land purchases begun in 1895—the first year of the Park Commission's life.
1864First meeting regarding establishment of a library in South Orange at the house of tea merchant William J. Beebe. The South Orange Library Association was created.
1867-1884The upper floor of Smith & Lum’s store (located S.O. Ave and Sloan St.) was used as the South Orange library.
1869(March 25) Village charter obtained.
1872Township given NJ state authorization to levy taxes and borrow money.
1872First village Marshall (police department) appointed, Henry T. Trenchard.
1873First police headquarters and four-cell jail erected.
1879Women’s Christian Temperance Union group begun.
1879First telephone exchange arrives.
1880Orange Lawn Tennis Club was founded.
1884The Library moves to second floor of Beck’s Hardware store. Budget: $700.
c. 1888Electricity fully brought to town.
1890Mountain House Spa burned to the ground.
1891Fire Department was organized in response to Mountain House Spa.
1891 (February 10)One hundred and fifty-acre Montrose Park annexed to the Village of South Orange.
1893Railway line was electrified.
1894Combining of three school districts into one Board of Education.
1894Village Hall built to house the Fire Department (until 1930).
1895South Mountain Reservation built from land purchases begun in 1895—the first year of the Park Commission.
1896 (May 8)New library opens in the Connett building.
1898Installation of a sewer system begun, completed in 1904.
1899Free mail delivery
1901Mosquito abetment campaign begun by Spencer Miller, Sr. and the South Orange Improvement Society. The Joint Trunk Sewer (23 miles long) was finished by 1904.
1902Methodist Church construction completed at its current site where South Orange Ave. and Irvington Ave. meet.
1903 (March)First sewer line laid in Riggs Place.
1908A group of citizens purchases five acres of unimproved land in the heart of the village for $8,000. They re-sold it to the village for the same price. Spending an additional $2,000 the village developed the area into Grove Park.
1912A five-acre tract was purchased and developed in the memory of Reverend Lewis M. Cameron and a children’s playground built on the site. It was named Cameron Field.
1912Seven wells were dug and opened and a pumping plant constructed and a reservoir built for improved water service to the village.
November 1913The First Baptist Church building, on Valley St., was dedicated.
1914-1915With a village contribution of $23,000 and the Lackawanna Railroad amount of $1,000,000 railroad property (including the S.O. station) was beautified and modernized.
1915Mountain train station was built. Mountain Station was the Lakawanna Railroad location at which the elevation of the railroad's roadbed was not changed. As a result, the grade crossing of Montrose Avenue at the eastbound end of the station was eliminated and the roadway was raised onto a bridge.
1915Elevated train tracks completed on the Morris & Essex train line.
1920Population of South Orange Village: 7,274.
c.1925South Orange pool opens. First free community pool in the country.
1922Marshall Elementary school opens. First Elementary school built in South Orange.
1926South Orange library becomes a wholly public institution and no longer a private one.
1929 (October 29)Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig play an exhibition game for the South Orange baseball team against New Brunswick, at Cameron Field. Over 12,000 people in the crowd.
1930 (September 3)First electrified train driven into South Orange Station. Inventor Thomas Edison on board.
1931Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic church completes construction of its current gothic-style structure where the congregation still meets today.
1932Telephone dial service is introduced to telephone subscribers.
1934First major bequest for Seton Hall. Landowner Benny Savage left a portion of his estate to Seton Hall (valued at the time for $10,719.83).
1935Marylawn of the Oranges, a Catholic school for girls, opened
1936The Adult School is established at Columbia High School.
1937Post office opens at current site on Vose Ave.
1946First established Jewish congregation in South Orange at Temple Beth-El on Irvington Avenue.
February 1952South Orange Rescue Squad organized. A non–profit organization to transport South Orange citizen from their home to hospital.
1957Oheb Shalom Congregation purchased property, completed construction of Temple in 1958.
1960Church of St. Andrews completed in the gothic revivial style.
1968The current library opens next door to the original Connett building library.
1977 (November)South Orange voters passed a new Charter for the community and changed its name to The Township of South Orange Village.
1986South Orange Historical & Preservation Society formed.
1997Montrose Park listed on the federal and state Registries of Historic Places.
2006South Orange Performing Arts Center opened.
2010The 2010 United States Census, the village's population was 16,198.
May 10, 2011Twenty-three year old Alex Torpey was elected as the youngest Village president in the history of South Orange.


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